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Glengyle Distillery was founded in 1873 by William Mitchel & Co. In 1919, it came into the hands of West Highland Malt Distilleries Ltd., but closed down in 1925.
In March 2004, its building beautifully refurbished by Mr. Frank McHardy and others of Springbank Distillery, it resumed its operation. The still that used to be at Frank's old workplace, Invergordon Grain Distillery's Ben Wyvis Distillery, was refit into the new Glengyle Distillery, and the single malt whisky produced there was named "Kilkerran".
glengyle Distillery
In the spring of 2004, with the newly slated roof and the building with simpler design, it was revived of its duty after ceasing its operation for about 80 years.1

Resurgence of Campbeltown Malt / An Ancient Flavour Revived

I received an invitation mail for the Third Year Anniversary Party of Glengyle Distillery from Mr. Frank McHardy of Springbank Distillery. That was when I was preparing myself for my sixth Campbeltown research trip. The name "Glengyle" resonates with a special kind of meaning for someone like me, who explores lost distilleries. I was fascinated by the unexpected and sudden invitation.

The pot stills of Ben Wyvis, given its new duty, seems to be shying away from the bright sunshine of the skylight, as they were kept silent for at least quarter of a century.
Glengyle Distillery
Glengyle Distillery circa 1877. On its background, across the Campbeltown Loch, stands the Lochruan Distillery, and its worm tub can be seen. A year later, the loch was landfilled and became the Kinloch Park.

The Rise and Fall of Cambeltown / A Distillery Revived

Once, there used to be as many as around 40 distilleries in Cambeltown on its heyday. Nevertheless, because of numerous factors, most of the distilleries have become the things of the past, and now, most of them are demolished. We are reminded of its history only by the vestige of the knocked down wall and the dilapidated buildings dispersed across the town. Among those distilleries, Springbank and Glen Scotia are the ones that survived the hard times, with its stern belief in its way of whisky production, and have been steadily operating through three centuries. Of the two, Springbank is the leading distillery of Scotland that captivates enthusiasts all over the world.

about kikkerran
"Kilkerran" means the head of the body of water where Saint Kerran's monastery stands
Glengyle Distillery
Kilkerran casks commemorating the establishment of the distillery

Glengyle Distillery made its resurgence in the spring of 2004 at the north end of Springbank Distillery. The original distillery of Glengyle was founded in 1873 and closed down in 1925, but its building has remained relatively in favorable condition after many years later. So Frank brought in Invergordon's Ben Wyvis (1965 – 76) still into Glengyle Distillery and resumed its operation. Ben Wyvis was where he started his career in the industry. It was a mere coincidence that I was visiting the area around that time of the resumed operation, and had the chance to savor the new make spirit. Three years after that, at the culmination of Frank's life work of whisky making, it was about time to name the spirit "Kilkerran" to give a life of its own as a whisky.

Where Scotch Lovers Gather / Intoxicated by the Joyous Party

The day before the party, a double-decker bus painted "Campbeltown Malts GLENGYLE" carrying the people associated with the distillery drove through the town and disseminated the name Glengyle.
Unfortunately, it was a wet night, and the party started at half passed seven in the evening. Party venue was the storehouse of the distillery, and two large gas heaters were lit. A small stage was set up, flanked by two counters, one serving appetizers and the other a bar. In the cut and dry party space laid out with just the simple tables and chairs, participants enjoyed conversations with one another, dropping by the scene whimsically. After a while, a woman went on stage and announced shyly, "The foods are here, drinks are there. Outside, there is a fish and chips takeaway. Please enjoy freely." That was thought to be the official commencement speech, and the party went on. I was slightly shocked as I was thinking more of a formal Japanese ceremony style party, but it was fine. Every single one gathered there understood the significance of the party.

party in glengyle
Powerful session by the members of the Kintyre Pipe Band School
news paper
A local Campbeltown newspaper clipping from the day before the party
party in glengyle
The dance went on and on until midnight.

We helped ourselves to the beers and whiskies!!! With the help of liquors, the interaction with the people could develop into lively conversations. Initially, we were only ones at our table, but people from here and there dropped by and chatted with us. We were able to communicate perfectly with just simple English and body language. A band with drum and bagpipe aligned in half circle at the front of the stage and started to play a steady and strong rhythm. I was fascinated by their brilliant drumstick performance.
The Scottish Music Band played on the stage. As I clapped my hands to the pleasant tempo, people started to dance. Though I was invited to join them, since I knew nothing about the Scottish dance, I declined the offer politely. But my wife who sat next to me, got up as she was taken her hand by the dancers, and joined the circle formed at the center of the floor. What she told me later, "As one of the only Asian delegation there, I felt compelled to make the connection with the people around" was the reason for her audacity. It should have been first time in her life with Scottish dance, and I could certainly reckon she did not know the steps. But she was led by the clasped hand and hopped up and down. Her hair was swinging to the left and then to the right, and I could tell how intense the dance was. I would say it was ten times as energetic as folk dancing in Japan. After dancing to just one song, she came back to the table breathing hard, due to lack of everyday exercise. "I wasn't sure what was going on, but I had so much fun!" she commented. It looked as though she was just swung and tossed around by the dancers. But on the other hand, it was true that because of the dancing, we got acquainted with the people at the party, so her goal was achieved.

party in glengyle
Live music by the local band.Nothing serves well as a companion for Scotch whisky.
kilkerran 3years
he whisky is the culmination of Frank's 40 years career in whisky making. The bottle is the 3 years old Kilkerran matured in Port cask, served at the party.

Sláinte to Glengyle Whisky with New Friends!

So the night went on, and the party venue grew more energetic than before. No one seemed to be leaving. We were having more and more of Glengyle whisky, as we could help ourselves to it, and enjoy as much as we could. I noticed there were some faces that were familiar, like Arthur from Royal Mile Whiskies and the Mark couple of the Cadenhead's. They danced and drank as well, seemed to be enjoying the party very much, and were excited for the reunion with us. We made friends with Mr. Philippou from Cyprus, Mr. Trolle from Denmark, Mr. Florey from London, and promised to meet up again.

Mr. Frank
Normally, he would be hiding his personal emotions, but on the special day, Frank looks so happy. This day, he was serving at the bar.
Glebe Street
I can easily slip back in time at midnight Glebe Street. Above my head is a Kilkerran bottle.

It was passed midnight, and albeit all the happy meetings, the time to head home had come. Although some people started to leave, Frank was steadily serving drinks at the bar counter. As I told him that we were heading back to the hotel, he introduced me to his wife. I had met with Frank in Japan and abroad, but it was first time meeting with her. She was a graceful lady, supporting the world's charismatic distillery manager.

Strolling with the Nineteenth Century Stillmen

Outside the venue, I noticed the shower had become a misty rain. With a comfortable slight dizziness, I took the midnight stroll down the Glebe Street with my wife. During the later nineteenth century, Glebe Street was made to accommodate the newly built Glen Nevis Distillery and Ardlussa Distillery. Many of the people associated with whisky production walked up and down this street. The distillery that once disappeared from the history of whisky production, with the help of the pot still that used to be fitted to a distillery destined to parish as those in Campbeltown, had made its chance to light up a new fire. That was such a lovely story. Drinking the whisky of the revived distillery, and walking down the streets of the whisky town was such a special moment. For someone like me who research the lost distilleries, it was as though the God had congratulated me with a special gift, and it was very exciting. That is why I never stop coming back to this place...
By Teimei Horiuchi,Pub MAHOROBI
Translation of Naoko Suzuki

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